DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICS
Programs Leading to the Master of Science Degree
Combined B.S.-M.S. Program
Qualified undergraduates may apply for admission to the M.S. program and, if accepted, simultaneously work toward completion of the requirements for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. See Combined Baccalaureate- Master's Degree Programs for details.
Program Leading to the Doctor of Philosophy Degree
Students develop their abilities to do independent research and to communicate the results of this research to the world. The skills developed along the way to this Ph.D. can help a person establish a career in physics teaching or research, or in other areas which require extensive knowledge of physics. The program requires at least three years of full-time effort.
Requirements for Admission
In addition to the general University requirements, a strong undergraduate background is needed. Most students admitted to the Ph.D. program have an undergraduate degree in physics or a closely related field. Applicants from other areas may be considered, but they may need to take some undergraduate physics courses to make up for deficiencies.
Program of Study and Research
Study and research programs are flexible, since students enter the Ph.D. program with widely varying backgrounds. A student plans his/her study and research with the help of an advisor.
The basic physics which all Ph.D. students must master are covered in the "core" courses. Core courses are not required, since some who enter the Ph.D. program are already well prepared. The only required courses are Phy 519 (Experimental Techniques in Physics) and three A,B,C-graded "survey" courses. The core courses are Phy 510A,B, 610A,B, 612, 615, 617, and 619. The survey courses are Phy 520, 526, 532, 542, 560, 562, 563, 570A, and "plasma physics" (listed as Phy 784 or as Phy 561). One cannot get survey course credit for both Phy 532 and Phy 562.
The core courses are designed, in part, to help a student pass a comprehensive field exam in physics. This exam is the doorway to research. Normally students finalize decisions about their research topic only after this exam has been passed.
A student must pass:
Research Tool Requirement
Each student must demonstrate proficiency in an appropriate research tool. Examples of research tools are a thorough knowledge of either a foreign language, a computer programming language, or electronics.
Full Time Study in Residence
Each student in a doctoral program must engage in full-time study beyond the master's degree or equivalent at the University in at least two sessions after admission to the advanced program. This requirement is designed to insure for each doctoral student a sustained period of intensive intellectual growth. For this purpose a student will enroll in full-time study (12 credits) taken in each of two sessions, or in a regular session and a summer session, not necessarily consecutive, which must be completed satisfactorily, except as indicated here:
Students must be admitted to candidacy at least one semester before receiving a Ph.D. An application to candidacy is accepted when a student has:
A student's dissertation is expected to represent a significant and original contribution to physics. The dissertation research must be publicly presented, and approved by the student's research committee.